THE family of a pensioner and cancer survivor who died at a Cork hospital over three weeks after he was admitted because of a fall has settled a High Court action over his care before his death.
Father of four and grandfather, Gerard Shallow, Bank House, Main Street, Doneraile, Co. Cork, was 75 years of age when he died at Cork University Hospital on December 6, 2017.
His daughter Geraldine Shallow on behalf of the family, including her mother Olive, had sued the HSE over the care her father received at the hospital before his death. Mr Shallow, who had suffered a fall at his home, was transferred to Cork University Hospital (CUH) on November 14, 2017.
It is claimed that he remained at the hospital during which his condition deteriorated, and he was transferred to the intensive care unit where he died on December 6, 2017.
The settlement, the terms of which are confidential, is without an admission of liability. The case was before the court for the ruling of the statutory €35,000 solatium mental distress payment.
The family’s counsel, Oonah McCrann SC instructed by Cantillons Solicitors, told the High Court the Shallow family were very much distressed that liability was not admitted in the case and while a letter expressing regret had been sent to the family, there was no apology which, she said “remained an issue for the family.”
Counsel said it was their case that it should have been clear Mr Shallow, who had recovered from lung cancer, was vulnerable.
Experts on their side, she told the court, contended there was a significant failure in Mr Shallow’s case where he had fluid on the lungs and it was alleged there was no adequate attempt to drain it. The pensioner, counsel said, was very vulnerable to sepsis and an inevitable deterioration in his condition tragically occurred.
Outside court, Mr Shallow’s daughter, veterinary surgeon, Geraldine said it has been “a very hard five-year battle” for her mother Olive and the family.
“Finally, justice has been served to Dad. There are no words to express how much of an amazing, caring, kind, honest gentleman he was,” she said.
She added: “He had an infectious passion for life. He lived it to the full chasing the Northern Lights, travelling, walking his dogs, golfing and gardening. He donated his body to medical science, his final selfless act.”
Ms Shallow said even after he closed his eyes for the last time her father “became a silent teacher to our future doctors“.
“He is missed beyond belief by his wife, children and grandchildren. The settlement and letter of regret will never bring Dad back, but I truly hope the lessons learned will prevent others from suffering the way Dad did.”
Ms Shallow had on behalf of the Shallow family from Doneraile in Co. Cork sued the HSE.
It was claimed there was an alleged failure to identify that Mr Shallow, when admitted to CUH and when his condition deteriorated, was at high risk of respiratory infection if the build-up of fluid in the lungs was not adequately drained.
It was further claimed there was an alleged failure to appreciate or act upon the fact that Mr Shallow had a high risk for developing infection because he was immune-compromised due to ongoing steroid therapy for allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis.
There was, it was further contended, an alleged failure to ensure there were appropriate inter-disciplinary discussions concerning what plan should be implemented to ensure that Mr Shallow's lung fluid build-up was adequately drained.
There was also, it was also claimed, an alleged failure once Mr Shallow was admitted to CUH to take all appropriate steps to adequately drain his lungs so as to allow them to expand and prevent an infection developing. The HSE denied the claims.
Approving the distribution of the solatium, Mr Justice Paul Coffey conveyed his deepest sympathy to the Shallow family.